Zoology Degrees

B.Sc. degree

A Batchelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) is the basic degree offered in the sciences at universities. It is usually a 3-year degree. The exact requirements for a bachelor’s degree with zoology as a major subject are specific to each university. Sometimes the different universities have slightly different courses available that allow students to select specific career paths quite early on. A visit to the universities’ web sites will usually have information on requirements and courses. Differences between universities aside, there are a number of points that any prospective zoologist would be wise to consider.

1. Although Mathematics and Statistics are not required for a B.Sc. degree at all universities, anyone interested in zoological research will find a basic training in these disciplines extremely useful.
2. In order to understand the internal functioning of animals, a university course in Chemistry is necessary and is a requirement for the B.Sc. degree at many universities (on the other hand, matric Physics or Physical Science at the higher grade is generally adequate for most purposes).
3. Students with an interest in Ecology are well advised to take Botany and/or Microbiology as subjects as well as zoology.
4. Students with an interest in Physiology or Molecular Biology will find Biochemistry useful.
5. Would-be Evolutionary Biologists will find courses in Genetics essential.
6. A working knowledge of computers and computer programming is also an asset in many fields of Zoology.

The Honours degree

The Honours degree constitutes a 4th year of study. Several universities offer specialised Honours courses in, for example, Marine Biology, Entomology, Ichthyology, and Conservation Biology, amongst others. If students are not at this stage sure which fields interest them most, they will find a general Honours degree will allow them to test the scope of the various disciplines. In fact, many zoologists are of the opinion that it is wisest not to specialise in the Honours degree but to obtain as wide a training as possible at this stage.

Higher degrees – M.Sc. and Ph.D.

The next step after an Honours degree is a Master of Science (M.Sc.). Again, several universities offer specialised M.Sc. degrees that involve both coursework and research leading to a minor dissertation (thesis), whereas at other universities the degree is awarded by research and dissertation alone. A doctorate (or Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D.) is usually the pinnacle of a zoologist’s training. In South Africa, a Ph.D. is awarded by research and thesis alone. Courses or topics of research for higher degrees are extremely varied and those considering study at this level should investigate the areas of specialisation at the various universities and then approach the institution of their choice for detailed information. Web site and contact addresses of the various universities are given at the end of this document.


Specific curricula for degrees will vary from one institution to the next and the latest information should be sought on the Internet home pages of the various institutions, which are listed later. Nevertheless, most will cover very similar subject matter at the undergraduate level. Below are just some specific examples of potential curricula for some different types of zoological careers. Not all of these represent full curricula and there is usually space for some flexibility or including other subjects of interest.

Research Marine Biologist

B.Sc. Degree to include:
Year 1. Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology or Zoology
Years 2 and 3. Zoology, Marine Biology, and/or Statistics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Computer Science, Mathematical Modelling.

B.Sc. (Hons) Honours in Marine Biology or Fisheries Science or training in Marine Biological research in general.
M.Sc. A dissertation on a particular marine biological topic.
Ph.D. A thesis on another marine biological topic.


B.Sc. Degree to include:
Year 1. Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology or Zoology
Years 2 and 3. Zoology and Botany or Statistics, and/or Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematical Modelling.

B.Sc. (Hons) Honours in Limnology or Freshwater Studies or training in freshwater biological research in general.
M.Sc. and Ph.D. As for Marine Biologist (above) but with freshwater-related topics.


B.Sc. Degree to include:
Year 1. As above
Year 2. Zoology, Entomology and from Statistics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Computer Science,
Year 3. Entomology and Botany

B.Sc. (Hons) Honours in Entomology.

M.Sc. and Ph.D. As for above but in entomological topics.

Nature Conservator

A 2-year diploma in Nature Conservation at a suitable technikon OR

A Bsc. Degree to include:
Year 1. Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology or Zoology
Years 2 and 3. Zoology and/or Botany, Ecology, Statistics, Computer Science, Mathematical Modelling.

B.Sc. (Hons). Honours in Zoology or Nature Conservation or Wildlife Management or Ecology / Biodiversity.
M.Sc. and Ph.D. Not usually a necessity but otherwise as above.

2 Responses

  1. Mike
    Mike / 1-9-2017 / ·

    Good day. Please could you assist me with some information. Id like to do a coarse on zoology and herpetology, i have a fulltime job and would like to study part time. Who offers this coarse and how do i apply.

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